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Atopy in Dogs

By: Dr. Mark Thompson

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Atopy is a disease that varies considerably in intensity depending on the individual animal and his present environment. Therefore, home monitoring and communication with your veterinarian is vital for success. Treatment is most likely to be effective if individualized to the patient.

Follow-up for atopy may include the following:

  • Administer all veterinary prescribed medications as directed. Treatment often fails because medication is stopped when improvement is seen or when it is too soon for improvement to be expected. It is particularly important for you to administer your dog's antibiotic prescriptions through to their completion and to be patient with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy should be tried for nine to 12 months before it is deemed truly unsuccessful.

  • Observe dogs on immunotherapy for signs of increased itchiness after injections or for hives or swelling. Although uncommon, animals may react to the allergen extract. Alterations in the injection schedule may be helpful to alleviate these problems. Severe reactions (anaphylaxis) may be life threatening, but fortunately are extremely rare.

  • Dogs on immunotherapy may improve after injections but begin to itch before the next injection. Shortening the interval between injections may help. Always consult your veterinarian before making changes in the injection interval schedule. Schedules may become complex. Keep a log of how much extract was given and record the date.

  • Observe for rashes, pustules, infected ears or any other skin lesions that may occur secondary to itching. Flare-ups of these problems may occur while waiting for improvement and will need to be treated.

  • Avoidance of allergens is usually impractical. However, air filters inside the home may be of some benefit. A dog that reacts to house dust mites or household molds may do better outside.

  • Seasonal dogs may not need medications during certain parts of the year. Close observation and good records may help to identify those times.

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